I have a tendency to want to be everything for everyone. In fact, I think a lot of moms feel this way. I want to be all in: for my family, employer, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and friends. The thing is, I often feel in over my head. As I get older, I am starting to recognize my limits, and I am learning the importance of saying “no” when I need to.
I am a people pleaser by nature, and I want to go the extra mile to make people happy. Then once they’re happy, I want to keep them happy. I like to be generous, and I hate feeling like I’ve let someone down. I think this is part of the reason why I often find it difficult to say “no” to things. Every time someone comes to me with a request, I will almost always respond with, “Sure, of course!” Just as often, I have been the person to offer or initiate action, creating commitments for myself in the process.
A couple summers ago, I started to realize that I was in way over my head. I was mother to a toddler and pregnant with my second child. Wife to a wonderful husband. Treasurer for my MOMS club. Coordinator and board member for a local soccer program division. Adviser on the board for my sorority. Working part-time. Committed to a twice-a-week evening group training session at the gym. I was saying “yes” to everyone and everything . . . except to my family.
The meetings, emails, phone calls and other commitments left me little time to focus on what was really important to me. I hated that I was constantly stuck to a keyboard or phone. I wasn’t devoting the energy into my family that I wanted to, because after everything else, there was little to no energy left in me.
Finally Saying “No”
It took me a while, but now I am much closer to finding my balance between my family and outside commitments. I started by stepping down from board positions and other volunteer commitments as terms came to a close. It has been a difficult but necessary process for me. I was recently asked to join another committee, and I actually said, “No, thank you.” That may have been a first for me!
Saying “Yes” to What’s Important
Now that I have effectively cut out so many of the extras, I feel like I am finally able to commit the time to my family that I want to. I’m wrapping up my final season in my last big volunteer role. Once I move on, I’ll be done with all the “fluff” for a while. Twenty different projects will not fulfill me; they will only overwhelm me. Now I know that!
I still work part time, which is good for our family financially, and good for me mentally. I also sing in a choir, which is so much fun, and makes me happy. And, because I love to write, writing for this blog has provided me with another wonderful outlet. These things are small commitments and are plenty to keep me satisfied and feeling like ME.
I also feel like I now have the time to commit to my kids that I didn’t have before. We can be a lot more spontaneous. I can also spend more of my time getting THEM going with the things that they want to try (but not too many things, of course!)
So, if you are a mama that’s feeling a little over-committed and overwhelmed, I feel ya. Next time someone asks you to take on something new, don’t feel the need to answer right away. Take time to think about whether it is something that will enrich your life or take away from it. Think about some of the fluff that you can say “no” to, so that you can say “yes” to those that matter most!